Radical Intimacies: Dialogue in Our Times, Melbourne


Perhaps one of the most demanding interventions we ever did. Working hand in hand with Australian Aboriginal activists and on topics such as forced child removal, this was a true manifestation of global solidarity transgressing colonial borders creating a collaboration of more than 100 people. What we achieved was in the words of Aboriginal activists, academics, students and community members in many ways unprecedented.

The inaugural international Memefest/Swinburne Extradisciplinary Symposium/ Workshop/Direct Action was held from November 18-25th and focused on Memefest’s 2014 theme - Radical Intimacies: Dialogue in our Times, curated by Dr Oliver Vodeb and Alana Hunt. It was a continuation of the global Memefest festival Friendly competition on the same theme and was connected to the Memefest/Swinburne Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention. The purpose of this focus was to research current perspectives on dialogue in times of growing uncertainty and environmental degradation and to work on productive solutions through innovative and interdisciplinary approaches connecting theory and practice, pedagogy and research. A key focus of this intervention was on Aboriginal issues, as we were closely collaborating with some of the most active and radical Aboriginal Activist groups in Australia.

Approximately 100 participants attended the three-day Symposium. Thirty-two leading experts from the fields of Communication Design, Media and Communications, Games and Art presented their work. They included speakers from Europe, Canada, North America, South America and Australia.

Speakers included the four recipients of the Memefest/ Swinburne award, members of Memefest international network, Swinburne University students and academics, and members of Aboriginal communities: The Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy (QLD), Grandmothers Against Removal (NSW), First Nations Liberation (VIC) and other Victorian based Aboriginal networks.

Sixty invited participants attended the five-day mentored workshops which followed on from the Symposium including International guests from the Memefest network, Swinburne academics and students from Communication Design, Media and Communication, Politics, Games, Sociology and Business as well as invited students from RMIT, Federation University and the Queensland College of Art whose work ranked highly in the Memefest Friendly competition process. Members of Aboriginal networks participated through the whole time of the workshop.

More than 40 high quality communication/design/media projects were developed and designed during the workshops. These include strategies, posters, web sites, booklets/publications, videos, stickers, stencils, sound based media, a participatory educational game and a series of events as well as 70+ hours of documentary video material about the event itself.

Most of the groups working at the Memefest event continued to collaborate and fine-tunine and expanding the projects developed at the workshops. A number of projects have already been implemented into the public space of Melbourne as well as various locations around Australia. This work has continued as projects and collaborations were further expanded in the comming years.